Driving Prosperity

Note: Over the last short while, I’ve received amazing feedback on my previous pieces about the path on which I find myself in rebuilding my faith and prosperity. I’m touched and humbled because, although I always aim to be transparent, these last few have been extremely personal and I was nervous about sharing. Your feedback has been reassuring; moreover I’m amazed by how many people feel the same. This column brings that journey to a stop sign — at least as far as things stand today. Thank you for coming along.

With that as backstory, we have two cars.

the pontiac when it was youngerOne was a 1997 Pontiac Sunfire; a low-end economy car with 122,000 miles. People oft-times are shocked when they hear I possess an 18-year-old auto with so few miles. They are thrown further back on their heels upon learning our second car, which is 19 years old, has merely 75,000 miles. (I joke that it still has its original tires.) What can I say? We walk a lot, and as you might remember, until a car hit me a few years ago, I rode my bike a great deal. In addition, we are loyal, not quick to discard that which is still usable.

Yet, driving to clients in a peeling grunting, clanking, banging automobile which wheezed and creaked more than a dilapidated, broken-down, gasping pipe organ not only gave me great concerns about safety, but — as vain as it may sound — didn’t fit the image I want to portray. Bottom line was I needed (and wanted) a new car. It was time. The problem is that in the last almost-two decades, the technology of cars has improved significantly. Yet, despite that, no one has figured out how to remove car payments. Sigh…

Putting forth my trusty mantra, “I live in a state of constant abundance;” I set forth on what would become a three-month journey to find the “perfect car.”

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Finding Abundance

The year prior to last was frankly put, lousy.

We had some health issues, which, as you know, are not only frightening, but also expensive. To make matters worse, what I thought was a very successful business model suddenly collapsed as if built on rotten toothpicks, leaving me financially scrambling. I’m fortunate; I’ve always put money away for a rainy day, but this was a downpour.

German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said,

“That which does not kill me makes me stronger.”

So, I guess I am sturdier for the experience. Yet, I retained scars.

One result was that I hunkered down, even as the tides began shifting. I looked for where I could shrink my life instead of how I could once again blossom. Because I attempt to live simply (all things being relative), there wasn’t a great deal to prune. I was faced with decisions akin to, “How can I save three dollars on the power bill? Is it really essential to patch the roof now or can we wait? How long can I hold off before replacing my brakes?”

Don’t misunderstand, we muddle up our existence with all too much unnecessary clutter so, if given the luxury, living within one’s means is admirable and even virtuous. However, unless one is extravagant or wealthy (or both), he or she can only cut so much fat before grinding away through bone.

Eventually, I was fortunate enough to be confronted by someone willing to have with me one of those unpleasant — but many times necessary — “courageous conversations.”

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Leave a Note for a Friend, Family Member, or Co-Worker

Leave a surprise note for someone.

Remember how you felt the last time someone left you a surprise note?

Whether it was your spouse, your parent, or just a friend; there’s something special about finding a friendly note when you least expect it.

No matter how good your mood was before you got the note, it got better afterwards.

A few years ago, I bought some really inexpensive plastic hearts at a dollar store for Valentine’s Day (above). I put candies in them for my wife. However, I still have them and periodically, I will put short, fun notes in them and hide them in various places around the house for her. It might take weeks before she finds them – and I’m sure we’re still missing some that were never retrieved. I don’t tell her. As she stumbles upon them, it brightens her mood and mine (because I’ll hear her surprised laugh or “Aww, that’s so sweet!).

Why not try it yourself and watch what happens to your mood?  (No, it doesn’t have to be a romantic note.)

Examples of what you could do:

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You’re Only One Step From Getting Back on Track

You’re always only one step from getting back on track.

As the expression goes, “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.”

So, when we slip up, we – with great intention – say, “I can start again tomorrow.” Yet, how often does that pattern repeat, leaving us over and over and over again, “starting tomorrow.”

That’s why it’s important to remember that you’re always only one step away from getting back on track.

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Reinventing Myself: Realizing What Really Matters

This week marks exactly one year since our dog, Jack, abruptly left us.

jack-&-I

Appearing fine with the rising of the sun, by nightfall he was no more. That’s a grim progression to experience any time, but to complicate this horribly unpleasant and unexpected bump in our highway of life, Jack’s passing occurred the exact morning I was slated to leave town for three months of contracted work. My wife and I, heartbroken, left the veterinarian and, upon arriving home, tearfully hugged each other as I slid into my rental car, and left her forlorn and isolated in our grievously hollow home.

Intertwined throughout the choking weight of sadness I carried was woven a heavy rope of guilt. But what are you going to do? It was three months worth of employment, planned well in advance. If your occupation takes you away — even when it’s more than inconvenient — you’re bound to go.

Life goes on — so to speak.

When my travel concluded, my wife requested,

“I know you love what you do – and I want you to be happy. But, I really need you not to travel so often. Would you please try and earn more of your income here?”

I agreed, not only because of her request, but also because I had been growing weary of the travel hassles. Her vocalizing my thoughts cemented the decision. So, for the last several months, I have been “reinventing myself at 60,” not something I intended – nor something I recommend, but as they say, “Life is what happens while we’re making other plans.” Mostly, short of scurrying hither and yon sussing out new modes of income, I’m doing okay. To that end, I do more coaching, both in person and on-line. I’m producing my own local seminars. I’ve snagged more hours assisting clients with marketing and consulting. And, I’m pleased as heck that even after 20 years together, I really do still enjoy spending so many hours with my lovely bride (and how cool is it that she says she enjoys having me around).

Today however brought forth an unexpected revelation: The most difficult component of my reinvention is that I no longer know who I am.

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